Have you noticed that the seams don’t meet the right way and the doorjamb is wobbly? Our house is unstable. The beams of this great edifice called America are slightly off plumb in a number of disturbing ways. Nothing at all is exactly as it was before the pandemic overwhelmed the United States. In small ways and profound ways, cultural and political forces are impeding the ordinary progression of life in America. But then, what’s ordinary? Most of us have given up on the concept of going back to “normal,” and what passes for normal these days is disquieting.
It isn’t just the pandemic, as if one could write off a highly infectious novel virus that swept around the world, killing 700,000 people here at home. It is how the pandemic was handled from the time it was discovered, then covered up, then ignored, then addressed with inoculation and medical efforts that ranged from inadequate to state-of-the-art medicine. I just checked in to the CDC website and saw that they have now broken down categories of information into: What We Know and What We Are Still Learning. That’s good. The fact that there is a learning curve in science seems to have challenged the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, which by any reasonable account have been remarkably successful in saving lives.
We are in a world where scientists are vilified for not having all the answers, the president is begging and bribing folks to take a shot that will keep them out of the hospital, and large swaths of people are bonding online and deciding that it is safer to throw away our protective masks, refuse the vaccine and embrace bizarre and debunked remedies for this deadly disease. With some few exceptions, there is no excuse for refusing a mask and a vaccine. Using horse de-wormer instead of monoclonal antibodies? It’s kind of like what Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography: I know crazy when I see it.
The problem is that those of us who have followed the science and had the vaccine, and perhaps the booster, by now can feel safe, but not completely safe. If we have young children or grandchildren, we see those who refuse the vaccine as a direct threat to the health of our family.
As we re-emerge into the world, the places we go are all changed. How did the “office” disappear in two years? Transportation is different from what it was, with some mask rules and some vaccine requirements on planes and trains. Some travel, like cruises, requires not just the time and money, but a willing suspension of disbelief.
Copyright 2021 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at email@example.com.